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Climate disasters ’cause more internal displacement than war’ in 2020

Extreme storms and floods displaced more than three times as many violent conflicts last year, as the number of internally displaced people worldwide reached record highs.

As of the end of last year, there were at least 55 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to published statistics. Norwegian Refugee Council Internal Migration Monitoring Center (IDMC).

More than twice were displaced in their own country when they were forced into refugee status, the IDMC said. This is the highest number on record, but its steady increase over the past decade.

In one year, which was the hottest record, 500,000 more people became homeless than in 2019.

A total of about 48 million people have been displaced by conflict and violence, while 700,000 have been displaced by the devastation. The latter is likely to be a significant loss due to incomplete statistics, IDMC said.

About 20 million IDPs were children under the age of 15 and 2.6 million were children over the age of 65. Most live in low- and middle-income countries.

The IDMC report states: “Every year, millions of people are forced to flee their homes due to conflict and violence. Disasters and the effects of climate change regularly lead to new and secondary displacement. , Which harms the security and prosperity of the people.

“The scale of homelessness around the world is increasing, and most of it is happening within countries.”

A camp for internally displaced people in the Afghan capital, Kabul. In 2020, about 20 million IDPs were children under the age of 15. Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

The worst-affected countries were Afghanistan, with 1.1 million people. India with 929,000, and Pakistan with 806,000.

The countries displaced by the conflict and violence were Syria (6.6 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo (5.3 million), and Colombia (4.9 million).

In addition to the number of IDPs, the IDMC report records how many movements a person has made during the year – if they were displaced at least once.

Of the more than 40 million new IDPs in 2020 – the highest annual figures in 10 years – 30 million were the result of floods, storms and wildfires.

The East Asia and Pacific region accounted for 30.3% of new migration in 2020. Sub-Saharan Africa was the second most affected region, with a leaf mass of 27.4%.

The IDMC report found that the displacement of nearly 10 million new people as a result of the conflict last year was mainly due to “continued violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Ethiopia”.

Families seek refuge in the ruins of a school in the Syrian city of Idlib. Conflict in the country has displaced 6.6 million people. Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty

Alexandra Bulk, director of IDMC, said: “It is noteworthy that these high figures were recorded against the background of the epidemic of Covid 19, when it comes to collecting data from mobility restrictions. Disruption occurred and very few people sought emergency shelter for fear of infection.

“Today’s displacement crisis is caused by a number of interrelated factors, including climate and climate change, protracted conflicts and political instability. Due to the Code 19 epidemic in the world, investing in a more fragile, permanent political will and local property solution will be more important than ever.

John Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, added: “It is surprising that everyone had to leave their home country last year. We are failing to save the world’s weakest people from conflict and disaster.

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